Caring for Dentures

Dentures require care that is different from natural teeth. For brushing a denture, one must keep in mind that toothpastes that are meant for real teeth contain abrasives to remove stains from the enamel surfaces.

A Denture Brush

But dentures are made from an acrylic plastic that is much softer than tooth enamel and cannot hold up to a frequent brushing with a harsh substance. It is also best to use a brush that is specifically made for dentures. The nylon bristles in a normal toothbrush can be stiff enough to cut grooves into the plastic. Over the years, I have observed dentures that aren’t even recognizable due to the meticulous scrubbing with abrasives. Another thing that can help are tablets of denture cleanser that you drop into warm water and they will effervesce plaque away from the denture. You still have to go over the denture with a gentle brushing to get the remaining deposits off. When cleaning a denture, it is usually best to do it over a sink full of water or a towel. All it takes is one slip and the denture could fall against a hard sink and crack in two. If there are any stains or deposits that do not come off with a gentle brushing, it is best to bring it to the dentist and have a professional clean them.

Getting Used to New Dentures

Once new dentures have been delivered, there can be a big learning curve on getting them to function properly. For those who have not had dentures before, it can be a huge adjustment. Chewing power is greatly diminished from the natural teeth. Foods that are extremely hard must be avoided so as to not crack the plastic. Food should be cut into smaller pieces and should be distributed to both sides of the mouth so that the denture does not get dislodged during function. One must learn to manipulate the cheek, lip, and tongue muscles in order to keep the suction seal intact and (especially on the lower) to keep it in place while chewing. The dentures are kept in place by a thin layer of saliva which helps maintain a suction to keep an upper denture from falling. But moving ones lips the wrong way can cause the denture to lose suction. Food will taste different because plastic is covering the roof of the mouth which insulates it from temperature and changes the appeal of food. Speech will also have to be re-learned, especially “s” sounds. It is helpful to go into a room alone and repeat “Mississippi” over and over again until an “s” can be easily articulated.